Cover to Cover: RuneQuest 6th Edition - Economics & Mechanics

nb - I stalled in my Cover to Cover reading of RuneQuest 6th Edition because I hit the "dull parts" of any fantasy RPG. So I've combined them together, the two necessary but not always very interesting parts, and will summarize where appropriate to get through to the next, remarkably interesting chapter on Combat.

Economics & Equipment

I'm not sure anyone can make a chapter on economics interesting, so I'm going to hit the high spots. Understand that the goal of the chapter is to lay a rudimentary economic framework upon which to build a skeleton of a set of equipment details upon which the avid GM can build.

Importantly, the default assumptions are laid out, with the traditional copper/silver/gold currencies. Ten copper to a silver, and a hundred silver to the gold, with the index value being that one silver coin will pay for food for one man for one day. Upon this threshold is all else built, giving you the opportunities to insert or update gear to better suit your setting.

That said, a solid variety of gear: armor, accommodations, clothing, food, livestock, tools, weapons (melee, ranged and siege) and vehicles are all represented giving the GM who doesn't want to invest much time in such things the basic tools to hit the ground running.

Of other interest is the expansion on using Commerce and Influence skills for both bartering, when currencies are incompatible or unused by one or both participants, and for haggling regardless of the means used. Your social combat oriented types will like the ability to barter items down to as little as one quarter of market value, or wrangling as much as double the value out of a sucker.

Game Mechanics

A very important concept is introduced in the sidebar on the first page of this section, and it is done that definitely hints at some of the "21st Century roleplaying games" - specifically the notion of a Scene as a unit of time. It is maddeningly imprecise for someone who likes things cut and dry, but a useful concept for story telling purposes, and allows players to have spells that last long enough for them to make appropriate use of them, and then end when no longer immediately needed.

Thankfully, Scenes sit outside of the concept of Combat Rounds (5 seconds), Local Time (a few minutes to a few hours) and Strategic Time (measured in days to years). Local Time might be the time it takes to build an encampment, or brew a potion or pick a lock, while Combat Rounds really are only used for combat timing, and a Scene could encompass either one. Strategic Time is the only one that typically doesn't map to a Scene, as everything done there is expository, not directly the action of one or more characters.

Combining the concept of Action Points (most folks have 2-3 of these per Round) and 5 second Rounds, individual combat actions - be they attacks, parries, evasions, outmaneuverings or the like, work out to one or two seconds of focused time. This definitely fits my idea of an ideal timeframe, with as little abstraction as possible, and every action being exactly that - an individual action, not a flurry of blows or the like.

Movement, specifically outside of combat, is covered here as well, with running being triple the standard move (with a bonus from high Athletics skill) and sprinting being 5 times standard walking movement (with double the bonus from Athletics) - leading to some really well trained athletes translating the standard Human walking speed of 6 meters into 24 meters of running and 50 meters of sprinting, per combat round.

Rules for dealing with aging, something you don't see so terribly often in modern games but which were standard fare in Traveller and AD&D, are included as well, with aging starting out as being fairly rare for someone who is physically and mentally fit (measured not by INT or CON, but by Endurance and Willpower skills respectively), and getting progressively harder to avoid as you age past 50 years (for humans).

Character improvement is covered by Experience Rolls (modified by your CHA value), but with the important caveat that you can't improve your primary attributes, except temporarily, and to keep them improved, you're dedicating a sizable chunk of your improvement potential to that maintenance. It proves to be less than valuable to boost STR or DEX, long term, instead focusing value on improving skills.

Passions, first touched upon in character creation, are given utility in this chapter as well. For those that have encountered Aspects in Fate and like systems, this will seem like old news. These Passions are rated like skills, with a percentage, and if you roll under that percentage, you may be ruled by that passion rather than making a more optimal choice. On the plus side, if the passion is thematically correct, you may add one-fifth of the passion value to a skill roll, to reflect your drive and single-mindedness of purpose. In this way they drive role play, as well as benefiting you for staying in character. The fact that there's no back and forth of deciding whether or not they come into play, like you see with Fate Aspects and the Compelling thereof, leads to a more natural feel that does less to hinder in-character immersion, in my opinion.

Next time - we finally get to tackle combat, with an expanded discussion of Combat Styles, an understanding of what Special Effects are, and just how realistic you can get when two guys with experience beating people up with swords and shields get together to design a combat system.

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